“这是我们的人生黄金时期.” James, a student of XIOHOO who actively attends many of our tech classes, exclaimed as I sat down to have a quick chit chat with him. Perhaps some of the readers are also associating a more fulfilling and laidback post-retirement life in the Golden Years of our senior citizens after hearing that, similar to what I had in mind upon hearing.
However, while James explained that he occupies himself with morning exercises, reading and meeting old friends 2-3 times a week, he went on to share that many seniors or his friends apply excessive pressure on themselves due to health concerns and this often restricts their ability to enjoy life. As such, I recalled the complaints my grandmother had of her close friend who had become overly-concerned with her diet and food intake after falling sick. Her fear of falling sick led to her extreme strict diet that hindered her from enjoying the comfort that food brought to many and gave her a scrawny unattractive physique.
In the words of James, “老化是不能避免 退化是正常的” (which translates to “ageing is inevitable and health decline is normal”) and thus it is important to not apply unnecessary stress on oneself to be healthy all the time and have the same vigour as the young ones. Perhaps the attainment of peace and contentment in the golden years must inevitably be balanced out by the awareness of health decline at old age. Having a good balance of moderate diet restrictions and the liberty to do what one desires at old age is important. One should therefore learn to let go and face the inevitable and uncertainties that will eventually come with old age.
James also brought up the fact that senior citizens must be financially independent without having to worry about their children and grandchildren to enjoy their golden years post-retirement, which I perhaps mindlessly assumed that most Singaporeans’ senior citizens had. Fortunately enough in Singapore, most of our senior citizens are well covered and protected by the retirement and pioneer generation schemes; this is also part of the reasons why I had the chance to speak to seniors like James who are granted with $1000 SkillsFuture credits to attend our XIOHOO classes.
Probing further regarding the wisdom attained at his current age and years of experience, James unexpectedly responded that many of his friends are unsure of what they want to do (“不清楚自己要的是什么”) and he kept emphasising that it is important for his friends to know what they are doing and not blindly follow the trends.
Prior to the short chit chat with James Ng, I came in expecting to feel very inspired by the older adult and his experiences in life. However, it was rather refreshing to hear from a senior aged almost 3 times that of mine that not all seniors are in fact wiser despite their years of experiences. Age perhaps isn’t really the best indicative of one’s intelligence or level of knowledge. It’s too easy to think that we can simply put our prior knowledge and experiences into a new phase in life; when in fact different phases translate to different concerns, responsibilities and expectations. After all, it’s all our first life and encounters with the different phases in life. While some may enjoy the freedom and lack of heavy responsibilities brought about post-retirement, some may feel troubled by the increased leisure time during old age.
Therefore, I hope to conclude this reflective article with an encouragement for all our seniors to explore more and engage in different activities to age actively and gracefully in their old age.